Accidents even happen in paradise. Last week, it was reported that a 25-year-old employee of a personal watercraft rental company was knocked unconscious in Destin, Florida, one of the most popular tourist spots in Northwest Florida.
Located on what’s called the Emerald Coast of Florida, Destin is known for its emerald-colored waters and its quartz-laden fine sand that’s so white it looks like freshly fallen snow. Originally a small fishing village, Destin now is home to about 13,500 year-long residents and a whopping 4.5 million visitors (including snowbirds) from within the Unites States and internationally each year. Destin is also known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Many people specifically come to the area to go deep sea fishing, play golf, and of course, to play in the Gulf.
Once a barrier island, Destin is actually on a peninsula that separates nearby Choctawhatchee Bay with the Gulf of Mexico. The water can be choppy around the area. Based on a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report, the woman and three other employees of the rental company went joyriding on the Gulf of Mexico. None of the other employees were hurt.
As it turned out, there weren’t any customers the day of the accident because the water was too rough to rent watercraft. The unidentified employees witnessed the woman jumping a wave and landing sideways. After striking her head on the hood of the vehicle, she dropped into the Gulf. Unconscious for awhile, her fellow employees pulled her out as she coughed up water.
Emergency Management personnel for Okaloosa County arrived soon after, immediately transporting the woman to a Destin emergency room. After thorough evaluation, she was released the same day, apparently with no serious injuries. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission did give the woman a ticket for careless operation of a vessel. It is unknown whether she is still on the job.
A recent U.S. Coast Guard report indicates that 73 people died in Florida boating and watercraft accidents last year. People over 50 have the fewest number of accidents (12 percent), while teenagers (under 17) represent 6 percent of accident victims. Florida law states that a person must be 14 years old in order to operate a personal watercraft. They must be 18 to rent a watercraft.
This recent Destin accident is one more reminder to be extra careful and responsible whenever in Gulf waters.